PoetryIssue 20 | May 2014

Ukrainian Now

by Lauren Reed

The streets of Chernihiv in the morning after daylight savings time, and days of rain,
the corner where I kissed a stranger on the cheek smells of pepper.
The pooled water on the cobblestones shows the city turned upside down
and four militia boys cross in front of me, all cinnamon and puddles.
Churches in every blurry distance; post-rain fog only expressionistic casing.
This day is wrapped in pretty blue and yellow ribbons, red and white patterned paper,
and I want to open it and every door I see, to: a miniature plate, a little picture of St. Catherine’s,
the window to every store strung with twigs woven into stars and hearts and little dreams.
Each day till now was only practice, today’s the first day I live here, Ukrainian now.
I’ll find the twine to wrap this day in, store it in a drawer or suitcase under the bed,
to keep it somewhere safe, so I can rub my thumb over it when I’m forgetting,
so I can sleep with it under my pillow on nights when I’m lonely.
The sun sets swiftly after four, and I don’t mind quickening my pace
to find my gate, to ride the elevator to 12, and unlock the several doors to home.
A balcony hovers above the entire city, a lone lantern floats by
on the hum of street dogs fighting below, and I know I’m where I belong;
this whole day was always waiting for me, and I found it on my own.

About the author

Originally from Virginia, Lauren McKenzie Reed has taught everything from Composition to Creative Writing, and Grammar to ESL Poetry electives. In addition to teaching and writing, she has traveled, studied and worked in several other countries, including Germany, Mali, and the United Kingdom. She is currently teaching English as a Second Language to future teachers in Ukraine with the Peace Corps, so she has much more travelling and writing ahead of her.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok